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IAN S.R. MUNRO, C.S.I.R.O. FISHERIES SCIENTIST & HIS LARGE FISH COLLECTION

The cover has a single black 3½d ‘Emblem of Antarctic Division of Australian Department of External Affairs stamp canceled with a Bexley, N.S.W. postmark and it has 2 cancels of MAWSON/ ANARE/ 16 FE 55/ AUST. ANTARCTIC TERR postmarks, as well as a boxed ‘3½D AUSTRALIAN ANTARCTIC/ COMMEMORATIVE STAMP/ FIRST DAY OF ISSUE AT/ MAWSON AUST ANT TERR’ handstamp. It is addressed to I.S.R. Munro Esq, 1 Allison Rd. Cronulla N.S.W. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

The AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL ANTARCTIC RESEARCH EXPEDITION 1948 cover has a ms. Joan and Ian Monro (sic) MACQUARIE ISLAND, and is illustrated with a microscope, a compass reading, plant life, stylistic icebergs and two penguins. The reverse is signed Ron and he has appended a message "Don’t sell this envelope for anything less than a lot of money – even more if it is a dealer". There are no postal markings (Figure 2).

The cover is addressed to Master Donald Munro at the same Cronulla address as his father and the same black 3½D stamp is cancelled with ANARE HEARD IS./ 23 JA 53/ AUST. The boxed handstamp is similar as Figure 1 with HEARD substituted for MAWSON. The reverse was not seen (Figure 3).

When the late Ian S.R. Munro agreed to lead the Gulf of Carpentaria Prawn Survey in 1963, he had no idea the task would consume his life for two decades. Until that day he had been preoccupied with fish taxonomy: establishing the Australian National Fish Collection at CSIRO and completing manuscripts for The Fishes of New Guinea and the Handbook of Australian Fishes. Neither he nor his CSIRO technical assistants had any familiarity with prawns other than gastronomic. With a pound of prawns from a fish shop near the CSIRO laboratories at Cronulla they took their first lesson in prawn anatomy. When the field work ended in 1965, Munro was left to tackle the massive accumulation of data.

To his preferred discipline of systematic ichthyology, he adeptly added the skills of analyst, cartographer, hydrologist, sedimentologist, prawn biologist, ecologist and taxonomist. He was to publish a three-part atlas of operational, environmental and biological data from the survey and a report on demersal fish and cephalopod communities of the gulf region.

The Australian National Fish Collection, based at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart, is a comprehensive and internationally-renowned biodiversity reference and research facility.

Since its foundation by Ian Munro in 1943, the collection has grown to house more than 145,000 finfish specimens representing more than 3,000 species. These include Australian, Antarctic and Indo-Pacific oceanic, inshore, estuarine and river fishes.

The collection holds 160 holotypes (primary type specimens) and 1 200 paratypes (supplementary specimens) of 280 newly-described species, and substantial voucher material relating to published books and papers, illustrations and photographs.

In addition to its value as a reference library, the fish collection is an invaluable source of material for publications that benefit conservation and fisheries management, the seafood industry and a wider public audience.

For example, the collection has provided information for a description of the fish fauna around Macquarie Island, south of Tasmania, which is used by Patagonian toothfish fishers to accurately record bycatch species. This information is used in assessing the sustainability of the toothfish fishery. Publications to flow from the collection include:

 

Sharks and rays of Australia

Australian Seafood Handbook

Australian Seafood Handbook

Field guide to Australian sharks and rays.

 

Ian Stafford Ross Munro’s incomplete obituary (1919-1994) at www.jstor.org/pss/1446932 states that he was one of the outstanding contributors to Indo-Pacific ichthyology of this century and he passed away on 22 January 1994 after a brief illness. He was born on 4 May 1919, in Brisbane where he lived through his childhood. At an early age, he demonstrated broad interests and an aptitude for learning. Educated at Brisbane Grammar School, he won school prizes for science and art. H graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the University of Queensland in 1941. His thesis, for which he was granted a first- class degree, was an investigation of shoreline and plankton communities of a mangrove island in Moreton Bay, near Brisbane.

After graduating, he spent several months at the former CSIR Division of Fisheries at Cronulla, N.S.W. to obtain practical experience in fishery research methods. This experience proved invaluable in setting his career direction. Soon after he received the Walter and Eliza Hall Fellowship for Economic Biology at the University of Queensland, where he investigated aspects of the biology of the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel.

The Second World War was less disruptive to his scientific career than to some of his contemporaries, for he was commissioned at the rank of captain with the Australian Reserve Military Forces. After completing his fellowship in 1942, he served for almost a year as Hygiene Officer with the Army Medical Corps based in Brisbane. In July 1943...[here ended my access to the obituary!].

The photograph of Ian Munro, shows him examining a part of the collection of bottled fishes at the C.S.I.R.O., Division of Fisheries and Oceanography (Figure 4).

 

 

 
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